Do Self-Exclusion Policies Really Work?
Some people think that gambling addicts are wholly responsible for their actions.
But that affirmation does not hold very long when you learn about the gambling industry’s predatory behaviour and addictive nature.
The industry is meant to counterbalance their widespread marketing campaigns by offering help to vulnerable players and problem gamblers, who represent a danger to themselves.
But for George (real name withheld), this “help” is simply a façade.
George is a 33-year-old man with brain damage. He recently came forward with a heart-breakingly honest plea for the industry to rethink its policies towards protecting vulnerable players.
After losing an estimated £210,000 to online casinos, he’s keen to share his experience with the structures in place that are meant to prevent problem gamblers from making their situation worse.
Self-Exclusion and Protection Schemes Are Easy to Bypass
George suffered an injury at 23 resulting in brain damage, for which he was given a compensation package to rebuild his life. And now, ten years later, it’s all gone because of online gambling.
Some patients that have suffered brain damage can have big issues with things like self-control, impulsiveness, determination and more.
This type of case really helps to see gambling as an addiction that takes advantage of the brain’s reward circuits.
It’s already difficult for a person with a healthy brain to resist gambling. So for a player whose brain has been stripped of natural defences because of injury or damage, it’s absolutely crucial for help systems to be in place so they can get support.
Let’s take a look at the gambling industry’s support network and whether it’s solid at all.
Player Protection Policies and Structures Currently In Place
The casinos that George spent most of his money on were powered by Nektan, Bear Group & Every Matrix.
These are all regulation-following gambling operators. Their casino brands have systems in place to spot problem gamblers and help them out.
These regulatory measures include:
- Regular checks on players for security purposes
- Responsible gambling and verification teams
- Regular checks to spot users who make multiple accounts
- Free self-exclusion features a player can activate in their profile
However, these measures were not enough to dissuade a dedicated player like George from finding ways around them.
Clearly, efforts to “spot” problem gamblers and multiple-account holders failed in his case – so who’s to know how many others the security checks failed to spot?
GamStop and its Failings
Another structure in place that is supposedly meant to help problem gamblers is GamStop. George had also used this scheme, but gotten around it just as easily.
GamStop is a nationwide self-exclusion scheme that was launched in 2018. Once a player registers an account at GamStop, they are prevented from accessing online casinos.
However, all a player needs to do to circumvent their self-imposed ban is to change their user details slightly when signing up at a casino.
A misspelt name and different e-mail address are all it takes to continue gambling.
GamStop has been under pressure recently to make its policies stricter in order to provide better protection. Cases like this only reinforce the necessity of better protection.
Is Compensation Possible?
The money that George lost was meant to be used to improve his own quality of life after his injury. He’s asked for compensation from the different casinos he played at.
Some companies refunded his money when learning about his brain damage. But not all of them have accepted, even when shown proof of his mental health condition.
One would think that a man with brain damage should be supported in his fight against multiple gambling operators.
Perhaps the only solution to George’s issue is to get the support of a heavy-hitter like the UK Gambling Commission so that he can face the gambling operators who refuse to refund him.
We can only hope that the situation gets resolved for George and the many gambling addicts who have been unfairly treated and left to their own devices within the gambling industry.